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19 children in worst forms of child labor rescued as DOLE padlocks Roxas Boulevard entertainment club for employing minors in prostitution

Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday ordered DOLE-National Capital Region Director Atty. Alan Macaraya to keep an entertainment club on Roxas Boulevard, Area 51 KTV Entertainment Club, shuttered after the latter closed the establishment for employing minors in prostitution and obscene or lewd shows, in violation of existing laws, specifically Section 21(a) of DOLE Department Order No. 65-04.
D.O. No. 65-04 constitutes the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 9231, or An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 7610, As Amended, otherwise known as the Special Protection of Children Against Child abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.

"Keep it closed and monitor the charges filed by the NBI against the owners," Baldoz sternly told Director Macaraya after receiving the latter's report of the closure. The closure was sought by the National Bureau of Investigation, through its Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTRAD). The NBI had also filed a criminal case against the club and its owners at the Department of Justice.

Baldoz, who received the report while she was in Masbate for the launching of the DOLE's Campaign for Child Labor-Free Barangays, called for more vigilance so that firms and establishments employing minors in the worst forms of child labor will think long and hard before illegally and criminally engaging children as workers.

The closure of Area 51 KTV Entertainment Club arose when the NBI discovered in May through surveillance and third-party information (the International Justice Mission, a non-government organization duly accredited by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, or IACAT, provided the lead to the NBI) the club's alleged illegal and exploitative employment of minors for sexual activities, including their performance in lewd and obscene shows.

As a result of the surveillance, the NBI, together with the International Justice Mission and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, mounted a raid of the club and arrested its alleged operators and managers, namely, Rodrigo Villanueva; Norma Paler; Louie Saab; Elmer Dordas; Romulo Palmes; Jaime Ng Sadueste; and Vicky Ocampo Roa.

"Rescued during the raid were 60 workers who, thereafter, underwent processing at the NBI. The dental examination conducted by the NBI revealed that 19 of the 60 workers are minor girls," said Director Macaraya, who added that the rescued minors remain under the custody of the DSWD.

"There is basis, in law and in fact, to order the immediate and permanent closure of Area 51 KTV Entertainment Club," he added.

Sec. 21 (a) of Department Order No. 65-04 provides that in case of violation, the Secretary of Labor and Employment or the Regional Director as his or her authorized representative, can order the immediate and permanent closure of a establishment if a firm or establishment is employing a child for prostitution or obscene or lewd shows.
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